I don't quite remember when I fell in love with tea but I do remember the most special moments of me drinking tea. I was eighteen years old and I went to live with my biological mother for four months. I had just met her months earlier and it was awkward for both of us. She and her ex-husband lived a very quiet life in Boulder, Colorado. He was a professor at one of the universities and she was a housewife. After years of drug addiction and being in and out of jail, she deserved the break. I was homeless so she and her husband agreed to let me come live with them. Each evening my mother and I would find a spot in the living room with a cup of tea and a book.

Now, years later, I'm a self proclaimed tea expert. I start each day with a wonderful English Breakfast tea to get me going. As the day progresses, who knows what wonderful tea I will crown queen. But for sure, I have at least three cups of tea a day. And yes, when I can, I have tea everyday at about 3:00 P. M. I love to invite my friends over for tea and cupcakes and so far everyone thinks it’s a delightful experience. I am always in search of the best blend of tea. Yes, I’m a tea snob, I prefer loose tea but I do like some bags also. I have learned not to judge a book by it’s cover. Some bags can be quite nice. And yes again, any Diva knows, what you drink your tea out of is very important.

Tea for me is a way of life. It's wellness for the mind body and spirit. Here, I will explore every expect of tea possible, with a high concentration on wellness. I will review the best teas, the best places to have tea, the best ways to brew tea, the best tea accessories, what tea goes best with what foods, and the list goes on and on. I plan to share my passion for tea with you. And I've been told, nothing I do is ever boring so be prepared to go on this tea journey with me.

RLT Collection Tea Ball Frosted Clear Beads!

Mint Medley by The Persimmon Tree Tea Company

About This Tea:

Until recently I had never drank Peppermint Tea made with loose leaves. And Honestly, I will probably never go back. The freshness of loose Peppermint Tea cannot be denied. When I open the can of Mint Medley, From The Persimmon Tree Tea Company, I feel as if I stepped into a garden of peppermint leaves. It is a perfect blend of organic peppermint and spearmint leaves grown in the US.

Mint Medley has become a favorite and I find myself reaching for this tea tin almost everyday. It is great for on-going nausea. The health benefits and endless. It relieves muscle aches, headaches, migraines, stress. And now that it feels like someone is sitting on my chest and I have a mean cough, I'm sure it will help to relieve some of this congestion in my chest. Mint Medley has been in my tea cup more than any tea as of late. It has really helped with my winter cough, congestion related to this bout of pneumonia. You can read my full review on The Persimmon Tree Tea Company Mint Teas.

RLT Collection AIDS Awareness Tea Ball!

Welcome to my world of books! As an pre-teen books changed my world. I fell in love with the writers of the Harlem Renaissance period and the more I read the more I wanted to read. The fiction of this period was powerful and empowering all at the same time. It spoke to my own degradation and gave me hope for a better tomorrow. It gave me purpose for my own life and the courage to fight the good fight and never surrender.

I love to read! Inside a book I escape into someone else's life. There is something wonderful about turning to the next page of a wonderful story. Something intoxicating about the smell of the book and the story it brings to life. Reading brings me joy, and these days with my health in the balance, I find solace in my books.

I spent hours in my bedroom sequestered with the door closed reading the classics from the Harlem Renaissance, Hughes, Larsen, Hurston, Wright and Baldwin. Books became my escape and my salvation. The fiction of this period was powerful and empowering all at the same time. It gave me purpose for my own life and the courage to fight the good fight and never surrender.

Reading is the one thing that the pain of my life could never take away from me. It was the thing that helped to make it better. And even today, living with AIDS, books continue to be the safest place for me. It’s the one thing that belongs to me that AIDS cannot take away from me.The RLTReads book club will be books that I choose. It’s me sharing a part of me with you that has nothing to do with AIDS. It’s actually in spite of AIDS.

The RLTReads book club will be books that I choose. It’s me sharing a part of me with you that has nothing to do with AIDS. It’s actually in spite of AIDS. I have read hundreds of books from many different genres and I will pick the best of my reads over the years. I warn you, it will not be exclusively white or black, male or female, fiction or non fiction, it will be all of them.

I’m so excited and I’m grateful to everyone who wants to be a part of this venture. We already have 110 Book Club Members. You can email me @ RLTReads@raelewisthornton.com. The Twitter hashtag is #RLTReads. We can make this book club as wonderful as we want to make it. Who says that Oprah has to have the only ownership to a wonderful book club?

This Month We are Reading In My Fathers House by E Lynn Harris

Read along and join our discussion July 19th at 7 pm CST

For more Tea with Rae "Vlogs" Click here to visit her youtube channel

Monday, August 2, 2010

Monday Reflection: God's Plan Is BIgger Than Your Plan

I've always had this sense of purpose for my life for as long as I can remember. When I was a pre-teen I came to the understanding that my suffering was not about me but about how I use it as a catalyst to enrich the lives of others. That was a huge revelation for such a young girl. Yet I had no idea how it would unfold. “How am I suppose to go about that assignment?” I asked God one day. And then over the years it unfolded. One thing led to another. Which lead to another. Which landed me in the very spot that I’m in today.

 At 48 I’ve spent over half of my life working in some sort of social justice movement: Voter Registration, Free South Africa, Stop Nuclear Testing, National Health Care Reform, elections of candidates that I believed would help bring about change if elected. They have all been altruistic assignments I believed given to me by God. Doors were opened and I walked enthusiastically through them. But they were all jobs. I felt good about my choice of career. I was helping to make a difference and getting paid all at the same time. I was climbing a ladder headed straight to the White House, as a staffer, that is.

At the prime of my life, about three-quarters up the ladder, things changed. Many of my friends and peers went to the White House with the Clinton administration and I was, well, dying from AIDS. But a funny thing happened along the way to death. My career ended and my ministry began. I’d been so blind-sided by it all. I planned, then God planned. God’s plan trumped my plan. It was bigger than anything I could have ever imaged for myself. In fact, if God had showed me this plan I would've called God a liar. “No way!” I would’ve declared.

Ministry is different from a job/career path. You don’t choose it, God chooses you. You just can't walk away. It becomes your life and flows through your blood and helps to fuel your heart. It is all that you are. Yes, having AIDS has been the catalyst for my ministry, but my ministry is so much more. It’s the thing that gets me through the door. What I do once on the inside is about lifting hearts and minds of God’s people.

I've had friends say to me rhetorically, “You still speaking about AIDS?' Like, girl when you gonna move on to the next thing? Also, underlined in that question is, “Girl, when you gonna get a real job?” And some days, believe me, I want a real job. Especially when the speaking engagements are few and far between and I’m trying to decide if I should pay my light bill or buy groceries. There are days I doubt God and have this urge to re-do my resume.

Then something happens, I get a speaking request from out of nowhere and in that moment I’m reminded that God has work for me do it. Lately, the speaking engagements have not been my big paying honorarium gigs. But the ones after they tell me they can’t really pay me, I say, “ Just sow a seed into my life because this is my only source of income.” The other day, I even asked God, “Umm how many more of these do I have to say yes to in order to get one with a real honorarium. Huh God?” I mean, come on, it would be nice to not have over half my bills over due all the time.

But then I go and speak, like yesterday, for an organization such as Dress for Success and God uses me to bless the women and then turns around and ministers to me. I told the women that their life was not their own, it belongs to God. In that moment I was reminded of my own ministry and purpose. It does not matter whether you are preaching in what feels like the wilderness just like John the Baptist, what matters is that you are preaching. Doing what you are called to do.

There are people who do AIDS work and that is what it is. They can walk away any day because it is work. Their focus is on building a brand and a name for themselves. But I understand whether I get paid or not, whether I’m in a magazine or not, that what I do flows from my blood to my heart. Even when I want to walk away, I can’t.

Now I’m coming to some acceptance about it all, it is what it is... It is what God has for me. And I must believe that God’s plan is constant in my life whether it feels like it or not. There’s certain contentment that comes which this acceptance. And like the Apostle Paul, I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation... whether in plenty and in want, I can do all things through Him that gives me strength. Phil 4:12-13
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